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Managing financial stress during the coronavirus pandemic requires focus, flexibility | Dollars and Sense

It's hard to avoid anxiety when it comes to money. Dr. Bethany Marshall has suggestions about recognizing and managing your stress.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — The coronavirus pandemic has caused financial stress for many of us. It may not be easy to cope with it at times, but psychoanalyst, marriage and family counselor Dr. Bethany Marshall believes that now is not the time to panic or lose your focus.

“It’s so important to find solutions rather than getting caught up in despair,” Dr. Marshall said.

Step one is keeping your attention on what’s happening now.

“This is not a time to look backwards or forwards," said Dr. Marshall. "Don’t regret your marriage or your career. Don’t look forward to getting a new degree. Ask yourself, ‘What do I need to do in the present?’”

Dr. Marshall says flexibility is key. “Be prepared to make tough choices--whether that’s changing jobs, taking out a loan, or consolidating debt.”

It’s also important to ask for help if you’re stressed. That could include reaching out to family and friends or making use of community resources, like your local food bank to ease some of the pressure you’re feeling.

“You need to rely on the people around you. If you’re drowning in the ocean alone, you’ll never be able to think or find solutions because anxiety interferes with our ability to think, but when we rely on the people around us, then our anxiety lowers and we can think and find solutions,” Dr. Marshall said. “Do something different. Rise to the occasion and be willing to do something that you were not able to do in a former part of your life.”

And be supportive of those around you.

“This is a time for you to be proactive. Don’t wait for a child or a spouse to come to you with a need. Be attuned, observe, and meet the need before they express it to you,” said Dr. Marshall.  “It’s important to watch for behavioral clues that a family member might be struggling.”  

Finally, pay attention to what your body is telling you. 

“If you have anxiety, that’s your body either telling you to assert yourself or find a solution to a problem. If you’re hunched over, take a walk. It may be from you being in front of a computer or on the phone all day,” Dr. Marshall said.

If you’re feeling stressed and need help finding anything from food to financial counseling, visit 211.org to see what assistance is available in your area.

WATCH MORE: Americans choosing to change spending habits out of fear | Dollars and Sense